Eight Smart Tips for Preventing the Flu
We’re now at the height of the flu season and it seems as if everyone is either ill or recovering from a bout of the flu. If you don’t make an effort to prevent it, odds are that you’ll catch the flu this season, too.
For most of us, that means a week or so out of work or school. But the flu can be serious and even deadly for the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, or for individuals with health conditions like asthma, heart disease, or diabetes. The trick is not to get sick in the first place. Follow these eight proven strategies to avoid the flu:
1. Get a flu shot. It's the number one thing you can do to prevent the flu. Getting the flu shot in the fall is best, but even taking it in the winter will work, so don’t delay if you haven’t yet gotten vaccinated.
2. Create a germ barrier. You can try to avoid sick people, but that's not always easy to do, especially when you're in close quarters like the office, movie theater, or mall. If you can't steer clear of the virus, use good hygiene to create a barrier against flu germs. Wash your hands with warm water and soap every time you shake hands or touch a surface that might be germ-covered. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you for times when you can’t get to a sink.
3. Keep your surroundings clean. When you clean up your office or home, take some extra time to wipe down germy areas with your favorite disinfectant. This should include places such as light switches, doorknobs, your phone, your computer, and your TV remote.
4. Eat a healthy diet. Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables supports your immune system. Research also shows that a number of specific foods have the nutritional chops to boost your body's natural defenses against colds and flu. The list includes barley, kefir, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, and kiwi.
5. Get moving. When you exercise, it increases your circulation, allowing your immune system to find and fight illness before it spreads.
6. Keep your hands away from your face. Your eyes and nose are the most common place for germs to enter your body, so try to touch your face as little as possible.
7. Sharing is wonderful, but not during flu season. Be stingy with your utensils, plates, glasses, and anything else you touch with your mouth.
8. Get plenty of rest. Sleep is restorative and helps fight infection, so aim for eight or more hours of sleep every night. And if you feel a cold or other illness coming on, up it to ten hours.